Skip to main content

tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  January 3, 2012 4:00am-5:00am EST

4:00 am
rick santorum. rachel maddow, her show is starting now. she's been saying all along rick santorum, you got to watch out for this guy. here it is. i mean, he is just surging. i think he's going to win it, rachel. i really do. >> you think he's this year's huckabee? you think he's going to run away with it? >> i do. i think that there's -- even though the pie is split with, you know, rick perry and with michele bachmann, i do think that he's been that strong in the state. >> wow. well, you know, at this point the only thing that i have learned about predictions in politics is that i should never make them. but if rick santorum wins in iowa, it's going to be a really fun few months, ed. just for you and i. >> we're looking forward to that, aren't we? >> oh my god. i've never been having more fun in politics in my life. thanks, my friend. going to be fun tomorrow night. >> absolutely. looking forward to it. thanks to you at home for staying with us the next hour. happy new year. i have to say, before we knew that the iowa caucuses were
4:01 am
going to start right after the new year, i was hoping that it would be sort of later on in the month, because i enjoy this process. i wanted it to spin out. i thought people wouldn't be paying attention because it was the holidays. now that it's happening after new years, i'm so excited i feel like it's still new year's eve. the party is still going on. i'm waiting for a ball to drop somewhere. it's very exciting. anyway. so it's 7:00, local time, tomorrow night, which is 8:00 eastern time tomorrow night, the doors will close at precincts all over iowa. the caucuses will officially be under way. it's very exciting. we're less than 24 hours out from the first contest that will decide the republican candidate for president this year. and as of right now, here's where the various candidates stand. public policy polling has the top three candidates virtually tied. they have got ron paul at 20%, mitt romney at 19%. rick santorum at 18%. a new insider advantage poll, again shows a mitt romney/ron paul virtual tie with senator santorum just behind them.
4:02 am
and the latest poll from "the des moines register" has mitt romney ahead, mitt romney at 24% followed very closely by ron paul, 22%, and rick santorum trailing them in third place with 15%. this is point, because "the des moines register poll" historically has been a pretty reliable indicator of how things are going to go in iowa. "the des moines register" poll is considered the poll to watch if you're going to watch one. here's the most interesting thing about that poll right now, that very well-respected poll. the most interesting thing about that is not that mitt romney speaking auts a two-point lead. a huge proportion of likely iowa voters are still undecided in that state. even now. 41% of caucus-goers, 41%, say they are still not sold on any one candidate. they still might change their minds about who to support tomorrow night. the candidates do not have much time left to convince these people. they do not have much time left
4:03 am
to make their case, to make their closing arguments. in fact, the campaigns are now sort of in logistics mode. now it is about getting people to the caucus. as it is about turnout of your most ardent supporters. it is about organization. it's even in some cases about instructions. instructing people how to caucus. like in this mitt romney ad. >> worth noting here, can we just go back, can we show, right after they show the stylized computer thingy, this part right here. saying go forth and find your caucus. there are more than 1,700 caucus sites, by the way. right after that, that's step one. and right before, do we have step three? yeah, step three, where they put
4:04 am
your mitt romney girl scout cookie logo in the mitt romney toaster step. between step one and step three, they have step two. look at step two here. do we have that? step two, show up. don't forget your i.d. oh, romney, santorum. i don't think they mean "id." i think they mean i.d. bring your identification. punctuation matters. interestingly, the good thing to know, heading into iowa, whether or not you're going to be supporting mitt romney in an iowa caucus or not, looking at those instructions, it's important to note you don't really have to remember your i.d. you don't really have to do that. the iowa caucus is not a state-run contest. it's run by the republican party, itself. so the iowa state republican party makes its own rules about how to run things tomorrow night. they could have decided to do what republicans in the iowa legislature have been pushing for the whole state this year. they could have banned any caucus-goer from voting unless he or she showed a government issued photo i.d. which of course not everyone has. the party decided for its caucuses it would not require that.
4:05 am
see, in the state of iowa in a general election, you're not banned from voting if you don't show a government issued photo i.d. in iowa you can show a non-driver i.d. card or student i.d. or something else that proves where you live like a bill or piece of mail. if you have none of those things, another registered voter can vouch for you, say you are who you are. that's how it works including in iowa for statewide elections. vote is your right as a citizen. there are not supposed to be arbitrary or prejudicial bureaucratic barriers to exercise that right. if you're elderly and no longer have a driver's license or don't have a photo i.d., that's no crime, that shouldn't interfere with your constitutional rights. if you're in the category, the decision by the iowa republican party about how you're running the caucus tomorrow, means you without a photo i.d. can still caucus for your candidate if an iowa tomorrow. iowa republicans decided to ensure that ballot access for republican voters voting for republican candidates only at the republican caucuses
4:06 am
tomorrow, the iowa republicans in the state legislature have been trying to change the rules. to ensure that when there are democratic candidates on the ballot and democratic voters turning out to vote for them, well, then they'd like to get a little bit stricter about who's allowed to vote. >> that was the main issue of my campaign. you have to show an i.d. before you get on an airplane, open a checking account, even to buy a beer. why not when you vote? >> the right to buy a beer is not enshrined in the constitution. i haven't founded my own country yet. voting is enshrined in the constitution. coming up with a new rule about what you have to do to do allowed to vote is a big constitutional deal. the man you saw describing that there is iowa's republican secretary of state. in charge of elections in iowa. when he ran for office in 2010, he made it his crusade to institute strict new voter i.d. laws in iowa. last year, republicans in the iowa house passed a bill that
4:07 am
would have blocked anybody from voting in the state unless they showed government issued photo i.d. that not everybody has. and that democratic leaning voting groups like minorities and poor people are statistically less likely to have. republicans in the house passed that. state democrats blocked that bill in the senate. when state republicans had the chance to institute the same rule for this republicans-only event that they're holding tomorrow, they decided not to institute that rule. what's more, if you are an iowan and not registed to vote at all, but you do want to participate tomorrow night in the republican-run caucuses, you can show up tomorrow and register right there. same-day registration will be allowed. it's another great thing that exists only in a handful of states in this country including iowa. it's another thing the iowa republican party has decided works for them in their event tomorrow. it's also another part of secretary of state matt schultz's key reforms in iowa. he wants to get rid of same-day voting and force voters who register on the same day as the election, he wants to force them into using provisional ballots.
4:08 am
provisional ballots may never be counted. when republicans in iowa are trying to get the rules for the electorate at large, when there may be a risk of democratic voters voting in an election for a democrat candidate against the republican, in those elections, we must have strict voter i.d. regulations and an attempt at same-day registration will get your ballot kicked down to second-class status. when republicans get to set the rules, themselves, for their own republican voters, when they know there's no chance of any democratic voters turning up to vote for a democrat against a republican, in that case, it's come one, come all. the more access, the better. joining us now is either defend the iowa republican party on this or let me tease him mercilessly about it is the former communications director for the republican party, now senior adviser to the iowa republican party, my pal doug. it's good to see you. >> great to see you, rachel. thank you. >> there's something i don't understand about this that means there isn't an incredible double
4:09 am
standard here on voting rules. >> let me make a technical point first. while we certainly do allow people to register to vote then vote in the caucus tomorrow, anybody who registers tomorrow will have to show a photo i.d. there's talk about people who are just going to be republicans for a day. people who are independents, democrats, who will register to put in a no preference, no choice, vote for a different candidate to change the outcome. this could be a democratic version of what rush limbaugh talked about doing in operation chaos in the obama/clinton pry primary primary. >> sorry, just to be clear -- to register, but not to actually cast a vote? >> exactly. but to register to vote, you'll have to show a photo i.d. >> if you are worried about a reverse operation chaos, is there anything about showing an i.d. to register that would stop that? >> no, i don't think so. you know, it's something we want to make sure, though, as people register that they are from
4:10 am
where they say they are. they'll have to show proof of the address in that area. we think that's important. then when you get past that, when you get to the actual caucus process, is itself, the uniqueness of the iowa caucus, true whether you're talking about the democratic caucus or republican caucus, it's really neighbors meeting neighbors. these are meetings that happen in schools, in churches. and in few cases, even in private homes. if people are meeting at a private home or meeting in a classroom of a school, because multimillion precincts may be meeting at the same caucus site. the sixth grade class in one room, the seventh grade class in a different room. when neighbors speak to neighbors, there's no worry about that happening. it's the uniqueness of the iowa caucus. another example, in primaries, people vote to make their voices heard. in a caucus, people show up to make their presence felt. if you're going to be willing to sit in a room and listen to boring political speeches for two hours, you're probably not going to be somebody who's going to tamper with the system too much.
4:11 am
>> doug, to be clear, since you have been in iowa, i know you've been there a long time handling communication now, trying to make sure everybody understands things from the perspective of the party, has there been a fight within the party over gt fact you don't have to show a photo i. d. to vote? has there been consternation for that? they're trying to change the rules for the state's election. there has not been worry about that for the caucuses? >> not at all. i've been with the secretary of state before our debate in sioux city. the issue didn't come up. to be honest, the first time i heard about this issue being an issue is when i got the fine phone call to appear on this show today. >> i'd like to point out the awkwardness. >> i'm not blaming you. >> i'm glad you're willing to talk about it even if nobody else will. i find it absolutely hilarious. but i'm also a weirdo. let me ask you about something that's much more mainstream, doug. that is voter turnout. voter turnout for the '08 caucuses was huge on the democratic side, obviously because of the hillary clinton/barack obama fight at
4:12 am
that point. it was about 120,000 in 2008 on the republican side. that was a big number. what are you expecting in terms of turnout and what kind of logistical planning do you have to do if you're expecting a big number this year? >> i tell you, logistically, it's obviously very difficult. we have 809 different caucus sites. 1 1,074 different precincts. it's a great beast our chairman matt straun is trying to tame here. we're just not sure yet. part of it is the number you talked about with people uncertain who they're going to support. we expect there will be a large and robust turnout because of two reasons. one, we've seen a lot of enthusiasm in the last couple days. events have been more and more crowded crowded for every candidate. there's a statistic that's important that shows the growth in the republican party and the excitement we have. 33 consecutive months against chairman matt straun we've had growth against the democrats.
4:13 am
that's not us growing a little more than they are. since barack obama has been elected, one in ten iowa democrats have abandoned the republican party. that's something that should send, though the president certainly has a strong organization in the state, should send a real cause of concern to the white house, to the iowa democratic party, itself. it's one of the reasons republicans here are so excited. >> doug, that admirable spin. don't you get an increase in registrations in the party that's having the fight when the other party isn't having a fight? that's why we saw roughly the double turnout on the democratic side last time around because there was this incredibly hard-fought battle on the iowa side that got everybody excited. don't you expect an increase in registration to follow the contest? >> we expect an increase on enthusiasm based on what barack obama promised us and obama as a candidate made last year. barack obama there was a lot of enthusiasm. obviously gubernatorial races as well. barack obama caused a lot of
4:14 am
excitement on our side. we'll see as we start the process. >> doug heye. veteran conservati strategist and a man who can get the anti-obama talking point into any totally unrelated discussion with admirable efficiency, doug. i always enjoy talking to you. >> rachel, that's the nicest thing anybody said to me. let me point out one thing very, very quickly. when i voted last year in washington, d.c., they asked me for my i.d. if you want to come down with me next time, we can make sure that great travesty is corrected, i'll be happy to stand with you. >> you and me will stand there and make sure the elderly people in tennessee who lost their licenses have to go through rigmarole. we'll have a road tour. we go to david yepsen who covered iowa politics for more than 30 years at "the des moines register" he's the director of the paul simon institute at southern illinois university.
4:15 am
mr. yepsen, thank you for coming back. >> good to be back, rachel. >> 41% of iowa caucus attendees still undecided in "the des moines register" poll. is that a surprisingly high number to you? >> no, it isn't. i mean, if it were a general election, it would be. it's not surprising to me at all. republicans, these are activists for their party. these are not rank and file voters. these are people who care about their party. they're looking for someone who they think is a good conservative. someone who can win the election. and they're taking their time doing it. as doug mentioned in the earlier segment, these are people who want a chance to talk to their neighbors. your friends and neighbors are some of the biggest determinants of how you vote? an in an election. they're going to get together and talk politics before they vote and talk about who might be a good candidate, who might be a bad candidate, who might run
4:16 am
well. so they've certainly learned over the years and certainly in this campaign you don't want to decide too early because who knows, some gaffe or mistake or something would change the trajectory of the campaign. >> because of that sort of collectivist nature of the process that you just described there, people looking to fellow iowans to see how people they respect and people who they know are going to be voting at the caucuses. do you think at this point that endorsements are particularly important? in terms of trying to reach that 41% of undecided voters, are the candidates in particular looking for both either newspaper endorsements are prominent iowan endorsements? >> well, newspaper endorsements are kind of a throwback to the old era. a candidate will take this stuff, it gets him a day of media. nobody delivers anything in iowa. if you've noted, you know, a lot of republican leaders are not endorsing. the reason they don't endorse is, first of all, they can't deliver anything to that candidate. they get a day of media. what it does do if they endorse somebody, it raises their expectation levels. national media people say, you
4:17 am
got the governor's endorsement or congressman's endorsement, you should do better as a result of that. it's almost as if they want to stay away from endorsing someone, because, in fact, it might hurt them. also they want iowa to be seen as a fair place to play. if you have local politicians taking sides, too many of them, it kind of puts a finger on the scales. they don't want to do that. >> david, iowa, of course, has this prestige position as first in the nation to caucus. we have seen efforts by various states to move up their primaries. try to sort of nip at iowa's heels if not challenge that front-runner front-runner status. if iowa effectively picks another mike huckabee this year, another candidate that appeals to republicans in iowa but not to the majority of republican voters in the rest of the country, do you think iowa is risking a challenge for its first in the nation position? >> iowa has a challenge every four years. i mean, i've covered nine of these caucus cycles.
4:18 am
every year they say this will be the last time it happens. some year it may be true. it's not carved in stone. iowa is the beginning of the process. it's not the end of the process. the only reason it continues is because the country cannot figure out a different way to nominate candidates. i mean, rachel, if you love money and politics, you'd love a national, regional primary. you know, there are unintended consequences to changes to this calendar. unfortunately for people who want to have more say. one of the solutions they come up with is move their events closer to iowa and new hampshire which the unintended consequence of making iowa and new hampshire that much more important. a candidate who doesn't do well in one of these states doesn't have time to recover in subsequent contest. if people want to diminish l significance of iowa, they decompress the schedule some. they've had some success. i do think one thing the republican party's doing that ought to help keep this contest going longer, in some states, there's a portion delegates. that may keep the nomination fight going a little longer.
4:19 am
>> david yepsen, former "des moines register" political writer, director of paul simon public policy institute. more ahead, including nate silver who's going to be here. also a bunch of news, not from iowa. stay tuned. [ toilet flushes ] i come in peace... but you go in pieces. [ female announcer ] you can't pass mom's inspection with lots of pieces left behind. that's why there's charmin ultra strong. its diamondweave texture is soft and more durable so it holds up better. fewer pieces left behind. charmin ultra strong.
4:20 am
[ de ntis is to dig right in. but as his dentist, i know that to do that, he needs to use the brush more dentists use. oral-b. trust the brush more dentists and hygienists use. oral-b. life opens up when you do.
4:21 am
4:22 am
the gallup poll today reports the race for the republican presidential nomination remains strangely unset ld strangely late in the
4:23 am
game. the old saying is democrats fall in love and republicans fall if line in line. so far republicans have done neither as a party. gallup calculating the lead in the race has changed seven times since may. republicans have had four different front-runners so far among the candidates. two other front-runners who did not in fact run. six leaders, enough for an nhl hockey side including the goalie. the republican party has not been this unsettled this late in the game since 196. they 1964. they ended up picking a senator named barry goldwater. >> ill let me remind you also that moderate in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. >> 1964 contest, senator
4:24 am
goldwater, was looking for the lead as late as june. come general election, come november, senator goldwater managed to win his home state of arizona. and also some of the old confederacy. mr. goldwater picked up five states there and that was it. mr. goldwater lost to lyndon johnson in a landslide almost without precedent in american politics. you can find bigger losses than the loss goldwater delivered in 1964 but can't find many of them. to be fair, the democratic party more frequently getting it together until late in the game. gallup compares the situation this year with the republicans to what happened with the democrats trying to pick a nominee for the '04 campaign.
4:25 am
democrats had nine lead changes that year. the last in february before they settled on john kerry. then they lost. also 1988, democrats struggled to pick a nominee before settling, finally, on massachusetts governor michael dukakis who also lost. so historically, regardless of what you're talking about, whichever political party, red or blue, blue or red, it simply is not good for a party to have this much volatility this late into the race. having this much volatility this late in the race is not a harpinger of electoral success. this is not a prediction the ostensible current front-runner, midst mitt romney, will lose in november. it's not an assertion that mr. romney is a bad candidate. the lack of ability to settle on mr. romney or anybody else may have less to do with him than it does with the republican party that seems to lack a thorough understanding right now of what it stands for. i just have one thought on this. because you see it playing out on the campaign right now. it's not being remarked upon
4:26 am
very much, but i think it's important. this weekend, mitt romney was asked about a long-standing policy goal of republicans. he was asked about passing the dream act. the dream act for young people who have grown up in this country but who did not immigrate here legally in the first place. it would give them a chance at citizenship. the dream act was a republican idea, championed by prominent republicans over the year including dick lugar, john mccain and orrin hatch. republicans began pushing the concept in president bush's first term in 2001. the dream act is a republican thing. it's a republican idea. it's a republican ideal. it's a republican proposal. ladies and gentlemen, your republican front-runner. >> hi there. >> hi. if you're elected and congress passes the dream act, would you veto it? >> the question is, if i were elected and congress were to pass the dream act, would i veto it? the answer is yes. >> boing. the dream act is apparently not a republican idea anymore. not this time around. it's 2012. a republican candidate has to be against that republican idea. similarly the old mitt romney used to embrace the republican idea of reducing greenhouse gases by setting a limit on
4:27 am
emissions and letting companies sort it out with market-based regulations. cap and trade was a republican idea. developed and promoted by republicans as an alternative to democratic ideas about air pollution and climate change. but because it is 2012 this year, a republican candidate must now reject that republican idea. even when it's one he used to endorse, himself. similarly, health reform. an individual mandate to buy health insurance. pre-2012 mitt romney believed in that republican idea so much that he implemented it in massachusetts when he was governor there. he had the law on his gubernatorial desk, in his official gubernatorial portrait. because it is 2012, a republican candidate must now reject the republican idea of health reform. the republican idea of an individual mandate in health reform. an idea that mitt romney not only personally embraced but championed in his previous time in office. i think this might be being
4:28 am
missed as an issue because our political analysis has become really over personalized. and who knows, maybe it really is all about which person you'd want to have a beer with. which person seems like your buddy. somebody who would hire you and not somebody who would fire you. maybe it's all likability and personality. it may also be policy. it may also be that republican politics have come to the point in 2012 when as a candidate, you are supposed to rant and rave to blood-thirsty crowds about the evil of policies that your own party spent a really, really long time selling to the country. that is not an enviable position for anybody. maybe that's why they can't make up their minds. but in any case, good luck tomorrow in des moines.
4:29 am
4:30 am
4:31 am
[singing] hoveround takes me where i wanna go... where will it send me... one call to hoveround and you'll be singing too! pick up the phone and call hoveround, the premier power chair. hoveround makes it easier than any other power chair. hoveround is more maneuverable to get you through the tightest doors and hallways. more reliable. hoveround employees build your chair, deliver your chair, and will service your chair for as long as you own your chair. most importantly, 9 out of 10 people got their hoveround for little or no cost. call now for your free dvd and information kit. you don't really have to give up living, because you don't have your legs. hoveround replaced the legs. and now every hoveround comes with this handy tote bag and cup holder for access to your favorite items. and right now, get this limited edition hoveround america travel mug free with your hoveround delivery.
4:32 am
[singing] hoveround takes me where i wanna go. call or log on to to find out where a hoveround can take you! used to be the way they caught political science classes about iowa politics is they taught you about ethanol. iowa was awash in a sea of corn. corn is used to make ethanol. subsidizing ethanol was a way to subsidize corn production. so iowa politics were all about keeping those subsidies. iowa's first in the nation caucuses gave that rather provincial iowa issue a ton of political punch in the country. politicians wouldn't dare challenge the power of the ethanol lobby if they wanted to get anywhere in iowa. that's how ethanol and iowa politics got caught for decades in american political science and american history courses. it's what ticks at the heart of iowa politics. it's what makes ethanol subsidies immortal in america. that was how they taught it.
4:33 am
for years. then this year, history ended. this past weekend, the federal tax credit for ethanol expired. just like that. after more than 30 years and more than $20 million in subsidies paid for the production of corn-based ethanol, those tax subsidies ended and pretty much without a fight. they still grow corn in iowa. people outside iowa still have a hard time understanding iowa politics. those things are probably eternal. some things that everybody thought would be forever, quietly just end. change happens. more ahead. the single most entertaining
4:34 am
4:35 am
♪ more and more folks are trying out snapshot from progressive.
4:36 am
a totally different way to save on car insurance. the better you drive, the more you can save. no wonder snapshot's catching on. plug into the savings you deserve with snapshot from progressive. the single most entertaining ad to come out of iowa this political season was released today. it was made by a couple of iowa filmmakers named scott sipker and paul benedict. it's called "iowa nice." >> so i hear you think you know something about iowa. [ bleep ] you. you've heard we're a bunch of knee jerk conservative reactionaries. i guess that's why we went democratic in five out of the last six presidential elections. how do you like me now? did your state legalize gay marriage before us? probably not. the first woman in america to become a lawyer was in iowa.
4:37 am
in 1869. you think we're all hillbillies. well, four out of five of us live in cities, punk. iowa has the sixth lowest unemployment in the nation. des moines is ranked the richest metro in the country and the second happiest. guess you can't have it all. so stop worrying about what we know and spend a little more time on what you don't know. the next time you fly over, give us a wave. we'll wave back. we're nice. that's right. we're nice. [ bleep ]. i'm out. >> thank you, funny foul mouthed iowa nice guy. it is important even on days when it is this exciting to be covering republican politics in iowa, and i am a little overexcited, i'm sorry. it's important to remember what iowa foul mouthed nice guy said there about iowa's rather democratic character these days. iowa has indeed gone blue in five of the past six presidential elections.
4:38 am
whether or not it's directly related, it's also worth noting the democratic caucuses in iowa tend to pick the candidate who goes on to become the democratic nominee. the republican caucuses for president in iowa do not tend to pick the candidate who goes on to be the republican nominee. over the past 30 years when there's not a republican incumbent, here's what the republican record has looked like in iowa. they only got it right twice. look at the democratic record. again, over the past 30 years when there's not an incumbent. they only got it wrong twice. democrats in iowa over the past three decades have tended to pick their party's nominee. republicans on the other hand have tended to pick huckabees. they tend to not be representative of what republicans nationally are thinking. the iowa results have just not been predictive on the republican side. so why do we pay so much attention to the republican contest in iowa? first of all, it's first. and we're distracted by shiny objects. the candidates do spend tens of millions of dollars competing in iowa. so there's that. but if it doesn't tell you anything about who the nominee is going to be, there has to be
4:39 am
some other reason why it is a big deal. part of the common wisdom about why it is still a big deal is that there's this theory that iowa may not pick the winner on the republican side, but at least it has a way of picking the losers on either side. one part of the common wisdom is iowa separates out the candidates who are viable from the candidates who don't have a prayer and the ones who don't have a prayer will drop out of the race after losing big in iowa. in 1996, republican senator phil gramm dropped out of the race after a poor finish in the iowa caucuses. to be fair, he had been disappointed in louisiana which committed political blasphemy and caucused before iowa that year. no 2000, orrin hatch dropped out of the race after finishing last in the iowa caucuses. in 2004, congressman democrat dick gephardt dropped out after finishing fourth in iowa. chris dodd and joe biden dropped out of the '08 race after losing big in iowa. lamar alexander, now a senator, dropped out of the 2000 presidential race in 1999.
4:40 am
after a disappointing finish in the ames, iowa, straw poll which is kind of a fake thing. he didn't make it to the real voting. republican tommy thompson, former wisconsin governor, did the same thing in 2007 heading into the 2008 race as did former minnesota governor tim pawlenty. remember when tim pawlenty was running for president last year? that was fun. iowa can narrow the field on both sides. it can cause people to quit. this year, the candidates you could see as being least viable, if they don't do well in iowa, at least don't appear to be prepared to drop out as the result of a bad showing. newt gingrich, for example, says he knows he won't win in iowa but he definitely won't drop out no matter how he places. he's already announced his campaign plans for after he says he will loose se iowa. rick perry and michele bachmann announced post-iowa events will be. both signaling they won't drop out. maybe iowa won't exactly narrow down the field this time around. another thesis about what the iowa caucuses are good for on the republican side, and this is statistically sound. this was advanced by nate silver
4:41 am
at "the new york times" this year. that is that iowa does not tell you who is going to be the nominee but tells you something about who's going to win the next contest in new hampshire. new hampshire can tell you something about who's going to be the nominee. again, this year is a little bit year. michele bachmann and rick perry when they talked about their post-iowa events have not been talking much about new hampshire at all. their first events after iowa they've announced have them heading straight to south carolina, bypassing new hampshire. common wisdom among the candidates right now is new hampshire is so far from being a competitive race, mitt romney has essentially locked it up. given the likelihood of losing big in iowa tomorrow, they plan on more or less ignoring the granite state and going straight south, starting all over again in south carolina. given all that, what is left, what is the most consequential result that could possibly come out of tomorrow's republican results in iowa? joining us now to help us figure it out is nate silver. author of the 538 electoral politics blog at "the new york times."
4:42 am
thank you for being here. >> thank you, rachel. >> did i get anything wrong there? >> no, good. >> iowa can predict new hampshire and new hampshire can predict the nominee? >> it's kind of like chaos theory where a butterfly flaps its wings in des moines and it revush rates to concord. it's a tenuous predictor of future success. >> looking at the results heading into that, with that caveat that it may tell us nothing other than iowa. what do you see as the state of the polls right now for tomorrow? >> you really do, i think, have very nearly a three-way tossup where mitt romney leads in the plurality of polls but rick santorum is closing and ron paul is only a point or so behind in the polling average from mitt romney romney. in a general election, a point is not much. in a caucus where the polls can be off by five on ten points, it's a small advantage, indeed. romney needs to be careful expectations aren't getting too far ahead of themselves. i'd say he has about a 40% chance of winning and maybe 20% or 30% for the other two candidates.
4:43 am
>> in terms of the results of iowa, spoken broadly, it has a lot to do not just with your num rative result but also the relationship of that result to expectations. >> yeah, if you look at what predicts the balance you get to new hampshire, it has to do with how you out-perform your polling more than the absolute standing. if you get, if, for example, in rick perry -- i don't think he'll do this -- but if he were to get 20% of the vote tomorrow, he's polling at 10%, he might get a huge balance. that probably wouldn't help him in new hampshire where he's too far behind. he might become the front-runner in south carolina. that's why it's very hard to predict the spin that will result. it's precisely what you don't know. the media narrative and momentum going on to new hampshire an the other states. >> in terms -- the sense is it's not competitive. mitt romney put together a prohibitive lead in new hampshire. is that true? >> it's a relatively safe lead. we have to keep in mind 198
4:44 am
waltzer mondale had a lead of 25 or 30 points in new hampshire over gary hart and hart finished second in iowa but got the media spin. he came back and won new hampshire. ronald reagan nearly lost the big lead to george h.w. bush but came back near the end to recover. if you have, for example, romney finishing in a distant third place tomorrow night or fourth place, that would be so far below expectations that you can't spin that result favorably. and romney would become more vulnerable. the problem, though, is a candidate like rick santorum is not someone who would be a natural fit for new hampshire. the best new hampshire candidate might be a jon huntsman, for instance, but he's not competing in iowa. his campaign is too much of a moderate to win over the evangelical vote there. you don't have any candidate but romney who can pull off this one-two parlay in the first two states. >> i don't want to get too hypothetical, although that's what this whole discussion is i guess. it's predictive and
4:45 am
hypothetical. if predictions prove to be, or polling proves to be roughly in line with the results in iowa and new hampshire, and we get sort of a three-way cluster tomorrow in iowa and romney wins pretty big in new hampshire. if that happens, are you already looking ahead to south carolina in terms of its predictive ability and who is likely to run strongest there as a determinative race? >> that would be romney's first opportunity to close romney has good states after that in florida where the older vote tends to like him. gingrich is fading a little bit. in february, he has michigan, another good state for him.
4:46 am
there are a lot of good romney states on the calendar. he lives in, like, half the states in the country pretty much. doesn't go too long before you have a home court advantage. nevada also has caucuses in early february. he has a lot of opportunities to look good as you go through the calendar. >> yet another advantage of being a zillionaire. nate silver. author of the 538 blog at "the new york times." i expect we'll be back talking again soon. on "the last word" lawrence o'donnell talks to a man who lost his job after mitt romney's firm bought the company he worked for. an up close look at romneynomics is just ahead. apparently there's news happening that has nothing to do with iowa. that's weird, right?
4:47 am
4:48 am
in 1984 on christmas day, two men from pensacola, florida, fire bombed an abortion clinic in that city. they were convicted and sentenced to ten years in
4:49 am
prison. in 1993, another pensacola resident named michael griffin assassinated a doctor who worked at a different pensacola clinic that provided abortions. the man who was killed was dr. david gunn. a little more than a year after that in 1994, the site of the other fire bombed clinic in pensacola was visited by an antiabortion activist named paul hill. paul hill shot and killed another doctor who provided abortions in pensacola. dr. john britton. yesterday on the first day of 2012, that same clinic in pensacola was gutted by fire. nobody was injured. the fire apparently happened after midnight on new year's eve. the building was reportedly burned as if from the inside out in a fire being investigated by the state fire marshal. it's the same clinic that was previously fire bombed. today it was announced the fbi
4:50 am
and the federal bureau of alcohol and firearms will look into the cause of the fire. we'll keep you posted as we learn more. we have more news not about the iowa caucuses and some that is, coming up.
4:51 am
4:52 am
doors close and caucusing begins in iowa in less than 24 hours. so the republican party's process of picking its nominee is finally about to get under way. while that is very exciting, it is not so exciting as to preclude all other big clangorous things happening in the news. president obama signed into law a bill that is a bipartisan effort. congress is trying to force the military to take over those cases even though the military did not want to and even though law enforcement and the intelligence agencies did not want that to happen either. eventually that provision was softened enough that the administration has a work df around so they never have to implement it. that law about the military
4:53 am
having responsibility for those cases, that is now on the books. which means, congratulations, you live in a country where technically the military has a legal role to play in civilian law enforcement. here at home. for the first time. cheers. the law also as it was pointed out today, it leaves open the question of whether our government has the right to arrest you, american citizen, and to hold you forever without charging you as long as what they suspect you of is terrorism. the president issued a signing statement along with his signature on this bill. it said in part, quote, my administration will not authorize the definite detention without trial of american citizens. to be clear, what that means is this president says he won't arrest americans and lock them up forever without trial. but thanks to this bill that
4:54 am
congress just sent him and he did just sign, if this president changed his mind or if some other president in the future does want to arrest americans and lock them up in military custody forever without trial, our government now claims that as its right. even before you get to the part of this bill that's about new sanctions on iran that iran says it will treat as an act of war if they're implemented, even before you get to that, it is clear by the white house threatened to veto this giant piece of legislation. it is clear by an averse to signing statements like president obama issued a signing statement for this bill. still it got signed and it is radical. i'm not sure we're going to appreciate its ridicules until it's undone by other legislation or unless another president decides to use it to its fullest extent.
4:55 am
4:56 am
4:57 am
4:58 am
the republican party's 2012 nominating contest begins officially tomorrow night at 7:00 central time, 8.p.m. eastern when the doors will be closed at republican caucuses in iowa. caucus-goers will congregate at nearly 1,800 precinct gatherings around the state. a caucus chairman and secretary will be elected and any candidates or representatives get to make short speeches. then a vote by secret ballot in a presidential preference poll. the results will be tallied, announced at the meeting and sent to the state republican party which will tally up all the precinct totals in a secret location. secret, they say, because party officials are apparently afraid that occupy iowa protesters may try to disrupt the counting process, even though the occupy protesters say that will do no such thing. after the super secret tallying is done, iowa republican party officials will tell the rest of
4:59 am
us who has won. iowa democrats will be caucusing tomorrow night as well. for democrats the process is a little bit weirder and more complicated. this is what it looked like last time around but thank goodness, i won't have to explain it. the only candidate caucusing for the democratic vote this time around is president obama. he will win and he is going to spend caucus night conference calling with iowa voters. it is all fun and interesting. our coverage of it starts in 2012 earnest at 6:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow night. msnbc's live coverage of the iowa caucuses, i'll be joined here in new york by ed schultz and lawrence o'donnell, by the reverend al sharpton and by steve schmidt who ran the mccain/palin campaign in 2008. chris matthews will be hosting with us from des moines, iowa. and chris hayes will be anchoring late-night coverage of the iowa caucuses when we are all done and spent.